I was alarmed and yet inspired by a recent article I read. Narcolepsy affects nearly 200,000 people in the United States, but sadly goes undiagnosed and undertreated. Don’t let this happen to you and your loved ones.
Imagine your reaction if you learned that only approximately 25% of people who have cancer have gotten a correct diagnosis and are getting treatment? Given the prevalence and magnitude of cancer these days—and the recent effective treatments, it would be criminal. Alarming! Fortunately, that’s not the case. Still, we all know how devastating it can be. Well, for people who have untreated narcolepsy and associated cataplexy, these stats are true!
While I’m not try to imply that the sleep-affecting genetic disease is “like” cancer, I’m saying that severe cases can be just as devastating. Imagine: Your sister, who is living with moderate to severe narcolepsy, is driving her BFF to the movies and suddenly falls asleep at the wheel! Tragically another precious life is senselessly cut short.
To help you and those you love recognize the condition and the cataplexy associated with it, here are some fast facts.
- Narcolepsy is typically diagnosed with a sleep study by a healthcare professional.
- Common symptoms can include: excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden sleeping attacks, episodes of cataplexy, hallucinating, disruptions in nighttime sleeping patterns, paralysis during sleep.
- Approximately 60% of people with narcolepsy have cataplexy episodes – sudden loss of muscle tone (falling) upon experiencing a strong emotion such as laughing or crying. There are varying degrees of cataplexy as some are mild.
- Narcolepsy onset typically occurs near the age of 10 through 30 but can strike at any age.
- It’s not uncommon for people living with symptoms of narcolepsy to experience sadness, depression, anxiety, frustration, anger, and memory loss at some point in their lives.
- Effective treatments exist to manage symptoms.